I recently wrote a blog post for a client about quick and easy time management tips for business owners. There were a load of resources to use for research and some of the tips were truly common sense. No magic, no games, just common sense thinking.
And yet, in the midst of my research I had a mini AHA moment and realized that I had found (hopefully) the answer to my time management problems: planning and prioritizing.
In the past I’ve been known to procrastinate. In college I was the one starting the papers two days before they were due because I worked better under pressure. But as a home-based business owner, I’ve come to discover that when work is left to the last minute, any number of things can go wrong throughout the day, pushing you further and further past your deadlines.
Tip #1: Plan out your week. I do this with my family calendar but I’m not as diligent with my business calendar. Even though I’m a visual person and prefer to have things written down, sometimes I get caught in the frenzy of deadlines and try to keep everything straight in my head, which never works well.
Now, I’ve got an “old fashioned” planner on my desk right next to my laptop where I physically write down all my deadlines for the week. I can add things as they come up and also see my progress when I can cross something off the running list.
Tip #2: Prioritize tasks. Not much explanation needed here (don’t you love common sense?). Monday’s deadlines need to be met before Thursday’s deadlines, so forth and so on. My prioritizing challenge comes from other distractions, such as social media. I’ve taken a self-imposed Twitter break because I was logging in way too frequently and was following drama rather than using it to develop relationships or to meet potential clients. I have enough drama from my 8th grader, thank you very much, so I don’t need that stuff from social media.
Tip #3: Use tools and applications to help maintain your focus on work. Today on Facebook an acquaintance asked if anyone had experience using LeechBlock, which is a free add-on for the Firefox browser which will block websites during certain hours of the day or certain days of the week. You need to add these time-sucking websites yourself and then indicate which hours/days they should be blocked. So, my Facebook friends, you won’t be seeing my smiling face between the hours of 10am and 3pm.
Now, LeechBlock is not a magic bullet because I certainly have the control to uninstall the add-on. Heck, if I really wanted to be sneaky I’d log into Facebook during those hours using Google Chrome (the add-on is only for use in Firefox). But I was certainly more aware today when I felt like logging in and caught myself before I even typed in the URL. It was something like a psychological kick in the pants.
Overall I’m pleased with my productivity today. Of course, there can always be improvements but tomorrow is a new day.